Sweet & Sour Brisket (SK#27) // My Sister Visits Australia

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In April, my sister flew all the way to Australia for the first time.  Fun fact: Kyra is the first person to visit me in Melbourne since I moved here almost four years ago. Her trip down under was less than two weeks. There was so much that I wanted to show her!

On her first morning, after a big night’s rest, Brent and I took Kyra to one of our favourite breakfast spots in our neighbourhood – The Birdcage. There, Kyra got to experience her first taste of Melbourne coffee! She ordered a flat white (how Australian) whereas I ordered my standard cappuccino. My sister and I ordered the same breakfast (much to her dismay): apple crumble pancakes!

We took Kyra to our old neck of the woods (where Brent’s parents live) and she got to meet his family. It’s pretty crazy to think that in the almost-ten years that Brent and I have been dating, our families haven’t really met! On our way up, we stopped at Woodlands Historic Park where we saw some wallabies and kangaroo!

One of the highlights in Kyra’s trip here (for her and for us) was getting to spend a couple of days on the Great Ocean Road. Even though I have gotten to drive alone the coastal highway a handful of times, I always love getting to go back. We stopped at almost every view point on the way to Apollo Bay (where we stayed the night). We took Kyra to the ever-lovely Twelve Apostles. We got very lucky with weather during this trip – the sun was shining almost the entire time.

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Before we drove back home, we stopped for fish and chips in Port Campbell, where Kyra got to experience this very Aussie tradition!

The very next day, Brent had to go in to work while Kyra and I took another drive over to Phillip Island. We stopped and spent a few hours at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park where you get to feed kangaroo, wallabies, wombats, and emu. Kyra loved the massive kangaroo (who were a bit too big and aggressive for food for my liking). We drove into town for lunch and ate at one of the two restaurants that were still serving food at 4pm. Then we saw Phillip Island’s famous penguin parade! I’ve only ever been to see the penguins one other time. I have to admit – this time around was a bit disappointing. The penguins were especially shy and we waited for about 45 minutes until a few small groups popped up and out of the water. Still, of course, worth it.

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Toward the end of Kyra’s trip was our three day trip to New Zealand (which I will save for another post). We got back to Australia two nights before she had to fly back home. On Kyra’s final day in Melbourne, we all decided to get tattoos. Kyra and I got matching ankle tattoos of the Tree of Gondor (since our family has a tradition of watching all three extended LOTR movies on Christmas Eve in a row – nerds!). We went to a local tattoo parlour and they were fantastic (shout out to Westona Tattoo)!

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Saying goodbye to my little sister was as hard as ever but I’m so glad that she got to visit us! I can’t wait for her next trip down under (when she can meet her doggy niece)!


 

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Maya’s Sweet and Sour Holiday Brisket and Roasted Potatoes and Carrot Coins (and Brussels Sprout!)
Serves 10 to 12 (so.much.leftovers)

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 pound piece beef brisket (I used two pieces of brisket from our local supermarket which totaled in about 2 kilograms)
  • 1.5 tsp table salt, plus more for seasoning meat
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (235 ml) beef stock
  • 3 tbsp (50 grams) tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp (15 grams) onion powder

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Method:

  1. Season the meat generously on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Whisk all of the remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  3. Place meat in slow-cooker, pour sauce over it, and set it to cook at low setting for 10 hours.
  4. After the 10 hours, transfer the brisket and all of its sauce to a baking dish.
  5. Rest brisket! Chill the entire dish in the fridge. SK says that you can chill for a few hours and up to one day and that the longer you rest, the more it’ll enhance the flavour and texture of the meat. We ended up resting ours overnight.
  6. An hour before you are ready to serve, preheat your oven to 150C/300F and then remove dish from the fridge. For a less oily final dish, we removed all of the solidified fat with a spoon.
  7. Carefully remove meat from sauce and place on a large cutting board. Cut the brisket into thin (1/4 to 1/2 inch) slices and carefully place sliced meat back into the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the meat.
  8. You’re supposed to replace lid and reheat in the oven until bubbling at the edge… but we misread this. We heated the dish before cutting it… and then ended up spooning the sauce over our plated meat and eating. Still delish!

For the potatoes and carrots:

  • 900g potatoes, sliced thin (recipe calls for fingerling potatoes but they don’t sell those at our local supermarket – normal potatoes seemed to do)
  • 900g large carrots (about 4 to 5), sliced thin into coins
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Generously coat two baking sheets with olive oil. Spread veggies out on prepared sheets and drizzle with any remaining olive oil before seasoning them with sal and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes before using a large spatula to flip the vegetables.
  3. Resume roasting for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are brown and crisp at edges. The potatoes should be soft and tender inside, the carrots soft but not mushy.
  4. Remove from the oven. Season with additional salt and pepper. SK recommends sprinkling them with fresh dill or any other herb of your choice but we didn’t have anything!

Darcy’s notes:

I would like to try this recipe again, this time actually following the instructions at the end! Regardless, the meat and the veggies turned out lovely. I love eating roast vegetables cooked in this method. I also made brussels sprout by following this Smitten Kitchen recipe which I would definitely recommend if you like dijon mustard!

Harvest Roast Chicken with Blueberries, Olives, and Rosemary (SK#26) & We Got A Dog!

I’m crawling out of the woodwork again and this time I’m just going to pretend like I never left… not like starting this blog post like such will draw attention to that or anything – d’oh!

So, uh, hey again! We are already over halfway through 2017… and over halfway through July. I’m starting to believe what they say about time moving quicker as you get older is totally true. Because, gosh darn it, where has the time gone?!

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An entire six months has passed since my last blog post. In those six months, my sister visited me in Australia for the first time, we traveled to New Zealand (first new country since visiting Oz in 2010 for the first time), and we adopted a dog! I hope to spend some quality time in the upcoming weeks putting together a post about Kyra’s visit and NZ (definitely going to have to wrack the brain for details… both of these events already feel like a lifetime ago).

But uh, did you catch that?

We adopted a dog!

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This gorgeous girl is a three year old Rottweiler. Her name is Kona (shoutout to Hawaii). We adopted her on May 10th, which will also serve as her birthday! We have no information about Kona’s history. She was picked up from the Lost Dog’s Home in Melbourne by Starting Over Dog Rescue. She was severely underweight and has had at least a litter of pups. Kona lived with her foster family (where they called her Tilly) for a little over a month before we adopted her. Our friend Amy set up everything for us (thanks Amy!!) and we managed to meet Kona before she was advertised online (she would’ve gone quick, too, because of her breed and gentle demeanour).

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Kona and her doggy uncle Jordy have been slowly getting used to one another (Kona learning to be calm with Jordy and accepting that he doesn’t want to play with her and Jordy learning to be tolerant and less afraid of Kona). We have been keeping them both on leads around each other for now but they have gotten so much better around each other.

It’s been over two months since we adopted Kona and we already cannot imagine a life without her. She loves to go on walks or runs with us. Tennis balls are her favourite toy. She is the cuddliest dog and absolutely loves every person she meets. We feel so incredibly lucky to have won the rescue dog adoption lottery with this one!

In the last few months, I’ve also been cooking and baking quite a lot. I’m still trying to cook through the entirety of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Last night, I cooked my twenty-sixth Smitten Kitchen recipe. And I thought I’d share the recipe with you all! Who knows, maybe one day I will actually get better at ~food photography~!

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Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes Blueberries, Olives, and Rosemary
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1ish kg of chicken drumsticks (SK calls for chicken parts – thighs, drumsticks, breasts, etc but I couldn’t be bothered)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup (90g) blueberries (okay – SK asked for red seedless grapes which I would have used but I couldn’t find a single grape at our supermarket – I took a chance on the blueberries and it actually came out really nice still!)
  • 1 cup (130g) pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 0.5 cup dry white wine (we used a cheap sauv blanc)
  • 0.5 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

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Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 230C (450F) with a rack in the middle.
  2. Pat chicken dry and season generously.
  3. Heat oil in oven proof 12-inch pan (I seriously dream of the day that I own a cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat until oil is hot.
  4. Brown the chicken, skin side down and then turning over, for about 5 minutes. We did this in two batches like SK recommends.
  5. Return pieces to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with blueberries, olives, and shallots. Roast the chicken in the oven until it has cooked through and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes.
  6. Transfer chicken, blueberries, and olives to a plat and cover with foil (to keep warm) while adding wine and chicken broth to the pan juices in skillet. Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it has reduced by half. We were expecting ours to thicken but it did not (and that’s okay). SK says to strain sauce if you’d like (but we’re lazy so we didn’t) and then pour over chicken.
  7. Add rosemary. And eat up!

Darcy’s notes:

I would love to be able to make this dish with grapes to see how it differs. I took a chance (I was very panicky in the grocery store) buying blueberries and I’m happy that the dish was edible, nay, delicious!

January 2017: Polaroids, Cirque du Soleil & Crying My Way Through A Concert

So, uh, hey. Me again. Remember when I thought I was going to actually update this regularly? Ha ha ha.

But hey, new year… new me, right? So here I am! I have a goal this year to actually keep up with this blog, probably in the format of monthly recaps to keep myself from being too ambitious. I’d like to talk about what books I read, what recipes I’ve tried, and what adventures I’ve gone on. So here we go!

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  • I can’t talk about January without mentioning about how grateful I am to have been in America over the holidays and into the new year (maybe I’ll make another separate post about that trip sometime). Even though the last week of the trip left me feeling weird and down (my childhood cat passed away as Brent and I were flying back to Australia), I’m so thankful that I got to spend so much time with my favorite pooch and kit-cat, my family, and my friends from home.

 

  • If you follow me on Instagram (here’s a link if you don’t), you’ll have already seen my post about this squirrel print that I got Brent for Christmas. Brent loves squirrels (and loves this print) so I’m glad we found a frame for this print and it is now happily hanging in our home.

 

  • The start of the new year rekindled my dream of cooking/baking through every single recipe in my Smitten Kitchen cookbook. This month I made 3 new recipes: Ratatouille Sub, Rosemary Gouda [supposed to be gruyere but I couldn’t find any at our local supermarket] & Sea Salt Crisps, and Peach & Sour Cream Pancakes. All three of these were delicious but if I had to pick a winner… it would be the Ratatouille Sub! I seriously cannot wait until we make that again.
  • Books! I read four books this month. I have a ~Dream Goal~ of reading 52 books this year. I say ‘dream’ because I don’t want to stress myself out too much if I don’t read that many. My realistic goal is to read 30! I read the first two books in the Mistborn trilogy. I really liked both of these but I’ve taken a bit of a break before reading the third by reading a self-help book and a psychological thriller for the virtual book club I’m a part of.
  • This month, Brent and I were lucky enough to see two shows in the city! And they happened to be two nights in a row! Back in October, I bought us tickets to see Yann Tiersen and oh my gosh, he was spectacular. I don’t know what it is about me seeing musicians-that-I-have-been-obsessed-with-since-high-school live… but, like when we saw Sufjan Stevens last year, I cried throughout the night. Such a sap. Before the performance, we ate dinner at an Italian restaurant in the south wharf promenade where the wine was much better than the food [which was a bummer]. The following night, we saw Cirque du Soleil Kooza! Brent got me tickets for Christmas (that boy knows me so well) and the show was incredible. Forever inspired and in awe of the performers in Cirque!
  • Last weekend, Brent and I dusted off our bicycles and went for a ride along the waterfront. It. Was. Incredible. We lucked out with gorgeous views and weather. The riding path was flat (praise hands) and I had such a great time. I’m super excited to go for another ride sometime this week!
  • For Christmas, I got a Polaroid camera. What decade are we in again?? So I’m still obsessed with it and I’m trying to take as many photos with it as possible. It’s super cool because it came with a micro-SD slot so I’ve been able to save all of the photos digitally as well! We took this photo during the afternoon of the Serena vs Venus match, after we had been boozing and BBQing outside in the sunshine for hours on end. Very quality photo, am I right? .

So that was my January, in a nutshell! Maybe sometime I will talk on this blog about my weight loss efforts and future travel plans… but I feel like I have already wrote out an entire novel in this post alone.

I hope you all had a fantastic January. Looking forward to seeing what February (my birthday month) brings for us!

Hey, Hi, Hello!

WOW – it has been a long time since I posted on this blog. I’m so sorry for completely abandoning it for two years. I wish I had a legitimate excuse… but honestly, I don’t (‘life hasn’t been all that interesting’ ‘work’ etc etc).

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So, uh, hey – this is me. Yes, I’m holding a skateboard (that I tried to learn how to ride for about a week until I fell and hit my head and now I’m too scared to try again). And here’s a little update on my life over the last couple of years!

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  • Brent (you remember Brent, my boyfriend of almost 9 years, right?) and I moved out of his parents house and began renting a house in August this year. We live in a cute little suburb by the bay and are within a 5 minute walk of a dog beach! We are absolutely loving the location, the house (even with its hideous carpet…), and living on our own. Adulting, for the win!
  • Two days ago, I reached my one year milestone with my current job at the airport. Working in a bookstore actually IS awesome (though my wallet would totally disagree there) and I’m really thankful to have a job where I am guaranteed at least a shift a week.

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  • I have somehow managed to keep up with one of my goals for 2016: post a photo on Instagram every single day for the entire year. Those 12 photos are my most recent posts. I’m up to Day 257 (even though it’s only the 255th day of the year… how did I not realise this until now) of 366. Follow me on Instagram at darceelizabeth if you wanna keep up!

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  • For Christmas last year, I received Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook as a gift. Because I am a little bit coo-coo, I’ve decided to attempt to cook/bake every single recipe in this book. Here are some of the results over the last few months: chicken milanese with an arugula and fennel salad, asparagus pizza on rushed pizza dough, pistachio masala lamb chops with cucumber mint raita, and olive oil ricotta cake with a (not pictured) concord grape coulis). I’ve still got a long way to go (here’s a spreadsheet I made to easily keep track of my progress because I am a massive nerd) but it’s been really cool to learn all sorts of new methods of cooking. I’m thinking of logging my cooking adventures on this blog which is SUPER lame because I am a terrible food photographer… but we will see.

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  • I’m still reading (though not as much as last year when I read 52 books, a book every week, during 2015). Here are some of the last books I’ve read (special shout out to The Goldfinch and All The Light We Cannot See – both SO incredible to read).

I want to get back into blogging again which is why I’m posting this update. Like I mentioned above, I want to document my cooking/baking attempts. I also discovered this Tumblr account of a couple who are traveling to every single town in Iowa and photographing as they go which is really inspiring to me. Victoria, Australia (where I’m currently living) has over 1,000 towns so I think that visiting each may be a little overwhelming… but I’m considering a new goal of trying to visit every national park in the state and using this space to document those adventures as well. Because I really value traveling back to the USA as often as I can to visit my family, I don’t have a lot of extra funds for traveling internationally so I thought that going on weekend or day trips around my state might be a little more affordable and quite fun to get out and explore! I’m not totally committed yet but it’s something I’ve been toying with. We shall see!

I’m sorry, again, for being a terrible blogger and will definitely be back soon with another update. Thanks for sticking with me!

The Top 8 Things I Did In 2014

Okay, guilty. It has been far too long since I last updated this blog and I would like to apologize! I started this blog in the hopes of showing my American family and friends my assumedly different life in Australia but the truth is that, after a few months after moving across the world, life kind of just feels … the same. Just as you would expect, I got used to the day-to-day life here and now, honestly, I consider Australia just another home of mine.

Anyway, in 2015 I have made a resolution to update this blog once a month. I thought that a great way to begin the year would be to recap 2014!

Without further ado, here are the top eight things I did in 2014 (in no particular order):

2. Australian Open

1. I went to the Australian Open with Brent. We saw two matches in the evening in the Hisense Area. We watched Mens Singles (Tommy Robredo v Richard Gasquet) and Mens Doubles (the Bryan brothers v Paul Hanley and Jonathan Marray). During one of the last sets of the singles match, it began to pour rain so we even got to see the stadium’s roof close! All in all, it was a very fun evening of tennis watching.

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2. I got my first job in Australia and outside of college. Granted, the job was in the hospitality sector, not within the field that I studied in university. For six months, I was a front of house manager at a brand new restaurant. I learned a lot about the industry as well as the responsibilities that come with being in charge of 15 staff and a restaurant. I had a great time working there and look back on the job highly!

4. Seahawks Winning Superbowl

3. I watched the Seahawks win their first Superbowl! Brent and I got up super early (because of the time change) and went to the grocery store in search for some American food. We watched the game while eating hot dogs and Skittles and sipping on some Budweiser. So excellent.

5. Getting A Bike

4. I purchased my very first road bike. Brent and I began cycling weekly on a trail near where we live and I have fallen in love with the sport.

9.3 Lakes Entrance

5. I went to Lakes Entrance twice! Lakes Entrance is a beach town on the coast of Victoria, it’s about a five hour drive away from Melbourne. Brent, his best friend Matt, and I first went to Lakes on the second day of the New Year and again in early December.

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We played two games of mini golf, spent every day at the beach, drank a lot of beer, and cooked a lot of meat on the barbie.
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One of the coolest things we did while in the area was check out the Buchan Caves. About an hour away from Lakes Entrance, the Buchan Caves are a popular tourist attraction (and rightfully so)! We toured the Fairy Cave with a dozen other people, a lovely park ranger telling us all about the cave and its’ history. It was definitely an experience to remember!

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8. Great Ocean Road6. In September, Brent and I went on a short road trip to the Great Ocean Road. This is the second time that we have driven along the beautiful and winding road. On our first night, we stayed in Port Campbell. We ate dinner at a small Italian restaurant and finished the evening by eating a pint of (very expensive) Ben & Jerry’s!

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On our second day, we drove down the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. Along the way, we stopped at a dozen of the lookout locations and took a lot of photos.

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When we made it to Apollo Bay, we hiked up to an awesome lookout of the small beach town.

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It rained almost the entire time we were in Apollo Bay but with views like this, we forgave the weather gods.

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We ate dinner at a posh restaurant that had a Sangria happy hour. When we got back to our hotel room after dinner, we shared a six pack of local beer and had an early night.

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The next day, we drove back home. On our way, we decided to make a quick stop to see one of my favorite things: a waterfall. After descending down a couple hundred stairs, we were at the bottom of Erskine Falls. You could explore the area around the waterfall which was probably my favorite part of the experience. It was such an awesome way to end our little getaway together.

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7. For seven years now, I have participated in NaNoWriMo. For those of you who do not know, NaNoWriMo stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month.’ The challenge: for the entire month of November, you must attempt to write an entire novel (they mark that as 50,000 words). Though I have participated for so many years, this is the first year I have ever won NaNoWriMo!

In other nerdy news, I also participated in my own challenge of reading every day for 100 days in a row. Doing this rekindled my love for reading and created a valuable habit for the future.

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8. In late July, I was able to travel to Hawaii in order to see my family. Seeing my family for those two weeks was just what I needed to combat the homesickness that I had. Unfortunately, Brent was not able to come with me.

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We ate lots of delicious foods, visited a handful of beaches, and went hiking. The above photo is from Salt Pond beach where we went during sunset.

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This photo is from one of our hikes along the Waimea Canyon. Picture: me, my dad, and my sister.

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All in all, 2014 was a pleasant year for me. And I’m especially looking forward to what 2015 has in store for me.

Until next time!

I Got A Job! & Other February Things

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As most of my Facebook friends know, I GOT A JOB! I was interviewing and working a trial shift at the end of January, heard back that I got the job at the beginning of February, had my job induction in the middle of the month and (finally) began working two days ago.

I’m working full time as a Front of House Manager at a brand new, gourmet and healthy alternative fish and chips shop. So far, my bosses and staff have been an absolute joy to work with. My first two shifts consisted entirely of running errands, cleaning, mopping, scrubbing, and setting up shop. I can’t wait for the store to open so I can try all of the delicious-smelling foods they’ve been cooking!

Honestly, the best part about getting a job and making money now is that I’m able to afford plane tickets to Hawaii in June to see my family. Excited!

Other things I’ve done in the last month:

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  • Celebrated the Seahawks winning their very first Superbowl! I’m so proud of my city. Brent and I got up early (the Superbowl aired around 9am in Melbourne) and drove to the grocery store to purchase Budweiser beer ($4 for a bottle), Skittles (THE BEAST), hot dogs and buns, and Doritos. ‘Murica.

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  • Went to ACMI’s Spectacle exhibit in the city where we watched countless music videos, learned all sorts of neat facts about the music industry and how music videos have changed over time, and saw cool props used in some popular videos (my favorite: pictured upper right, from OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass).
  • Experienced multiple days of over 40C/110F weather, and my first bush fire warning.
  • Joined a tennis club! Brent’s mum invited me to be a part of the tennis club that she plays in. I hadn’t played regular tennis since high school and have been wanting to get back into it for some time. So far, I’ve played two doubles matches: won the first, lost the second. I’m really excited for the season to continue!

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  • Celebrated my 23rd birthday by eating delicious Thai food and boozy drinks at Melbourne’s Cookie (which had been on my to-do list for a while) and getting drunk in the city with Brent and his best mate. An A+ celebration.
  • Learned how to drive a manual car on the Aussie road! Alone! Without killing myself or anyone else!

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  • Visited the Bathing Boxes in Brighton, otherwise known as my new favorite place in Melbourne.

As I was about to hit ‘Publish Post,’ a spider started to climb on my arm (!!!) and I had to kill it (after screaming, of course). The fun part (HA) about living in Australia is realizing that any spider could have the ability to poison and kill you (I should probably learn the difference between ‘normal’ spiders and ‘OH SHIT RUN THE HELL AWAY’ spiders) … actually, it seems that ANYTHING (bush fires, snakes, jellyfish….) in Australia could kill you.

Until next time, folks!

Christmas In Australia

I know that it’s been a while since my last post and that I’m in need of catching you all up on life here in Australia. I’ve been thinking about writing this post about Christmas for a few weeks now and I’ve finally gotten around to it!

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I’ll start with some background of a typical Christmas for me in the States. My immediate family lives on the west coast while almost all of my extended family lives in the midwest or on the east coast. I’m lucky if I get to see any relative of mine once a year, if that. My family (mom, dad and sister) start the Christmas celebrations by having a crab and shrimp dinner on Christmas Eve. My sister and I set out cookies and milk for Santa before bed then we usually call it a night before eleven o’clock. We wake early on Christmas morning to open presents in our pajamas with Christmas music playing on the radio. Santa always gives my mom a couple packets of scone mix for Christmas and after we finish opening gifts, she’ll make a batch of scones for a late breakfast. We spend the rest of the day lazing around, enjoying the holiday and our new presents. We finish the day off with a delicious steak and mashed potatoes dinner that my dad slaves in the kitchen all afternoon cooking.

As you can see, most of my Christmas celebrations have been very relaxed. This Christmas in Australia was much different.

Unlike my family, Brent’s extended family all live in the same state. The weekend before Christmas, Brent’s family and I drove a half hour to a Christmas party that his dad’s side of the family was having. This was my first taste of Aussie Christmas. It was a muggy and warm day, not surprising considering that it’s summer. There were fifteen people, including a few children and one baby. We all stayed outside for the most part, drinking beer and enjoying conversation. Because I was the newbie, I was asked all sorts of questions (including how my family celebrated Christmas). Brent’s aunt, mother and cousin served up lunch to all of us.

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On everybody’s plate, there was a Bon Bon (or Christmas Cracker). Before eating lunch or dinner, everyone takes their Bon Bon in their hand, crosses their arms in front of them (making sure that they’re holding one end of their Bon Bon in one hand and the end of another person’s Bon Bon with the other hand). After counting to three, everyone yanks each Bon Bon. All of them are filled with paper crowns that everyone must wear throughout the meal, while only some are filled with little gifts. After everyone wore their crowns, it was time to chow down on lunch (and then dinner).

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On Christmas Day, Brent’s mum’s side of the family came over after we (his immediate family and I) finished opening gifts. We all celebrated the holiday by drinking beer, eating lots of food and giving gifts. Another Christmas Tradition that both sides of Brent’s family practiced involved the Christmas Pudding. I had never even heard of Christmas Pudding before traveling to Australia (I know, I know – so cultured). The pudding is made by actually boiling pudding and then adding about a bucket of brandy as well as lots of dried fruit. The alcohol keeps the pudding preserved for up to a year! The fun part about Christmas Pudding is that the chef puts in a few five-cent coins. Whoever ends up getting a coin in their slice of pudding (and nearly breaking their teeth) is blessed with good luck for the next year. Because Brent’s aunt is so sweet, everyone at the table ended up being blessed with good luck for 2014.

Hopefully with this good luck, I will find a job this year!